What Can I Do With A Major In Geography?

"Geography is the only subject that asks you to look at the world and try to make sense of it. The field never stops being exciting, because that's what geography is all about-trying to make sense of the world." -Peirce F. Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University

Geographers are often found working in business, industry, government, and education. Geographers are called upon to help understand and restore natural ecosystems; manage natural and urban environments; investigate sustainable land use worldwide; analyze the evolving relationship between people and places; become involved in diplomacy or intelligence; plan transportation routes; create Geographical Management Systems for industries and governmental agencies; apply their skills as cartographers; teach; and much more. No academic discipline offers a greater range of employment opportunities.

A Sample of Related Occupations

Individuals trained in physical geography are often employed as a weather forecasters; outdoor guides; coastal-zone managers; hydrologists; soil conservation or agricultural extension agents. Those leaning toward environmental geography might consider employment as an environmental manager; forestry technician; park ranger; or hazardous-waste planner. Many of those emphasizing cultural or regional geography might begin their careers in the Peace Corps; and then work as area specialists for the federal government; as diplomats; intelligence officers; travel agents; travel writers; international business representatives; community developers; or health-care analysts. Economic geographers find employment as site-selection analysts for business and industry; market researchers; traffic or route delivery managers; real estate agents, brokers, or appraisers; or economic-development researchers. Those trained in community and environmental planning might gravitate toward work as a community planner; transportation planner; or housing, park, or recreation planner. Those with an emphasis in cartography and geographical information systems (GIS) find employment as cartographers for the federal government or the private sector; as map librarians; GIS specialists for planners; land developers; remote-sensing analysts; surveyors; or work with real estate agencies, utility companies, or local government. Those in geographical education find work as elementary or secondary school teachers, college professors, or overseas teachers.

Types of Employers

Private and Non-profit organizations:

Banks Cartographic Firms
Chambers of Commerce
Colleges and Universities
Consulting Firms
Environmental Systems Research Institute
GIS Applications
Historical Societies
Insurance Companies
International Development Organizations
Legal Firms (particularly environmental law)
Medical Groups
Newspapers and Magazines
Public-Relations Firms
Publishing Companies
Refugee Assistance Organizations
Research Firms
Science Policy
Social-Service Agencies
Travel Industry
Wildlife Management Agencies

Government Agencies:

Army Corps of Engineers
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of the Census
Central Intelligence Agency
Congressional Offices
Defense Mapping Agency
Department of Agriculture
Department of State
Department of State Lands
Drug Enforcement Administration
Environmental Protection Agency
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Food and Agriculture Organization (United Nations)
Law Enforcement
Montana Office of Public Instruction
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Park Service
National Science Foundation
Natural Resource Information System (Montana State Library)
Organization of American States
Peace Corps
Planning Agencies
Smithsonian Institution
State Department of Transportation
State Historical Preservation Office
United Nations Development Programme United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
U.S. Agency for International Development
U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Information Agency
World Bank
World Health Organization
World Meteorological Organization

The Department of Geography at The University of Montana will gladly provide additional information regarding employment opportunities, including a listing of 280 companies that hire geographers.

Professional Associations

The Association of American Geographers
American Association for the Advancement of Science
The American Geographical Society
American Planning Association
Association of Asian Studies
Central Asian Studies Association
Middle Eastern Studies Association
National Council for Geographic Education
National Geographic Society
North American Cartographic Information Society